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Augmented reality m-learning to enhance nursing skills acquisition in the clinical skills laboratory

Bernard M. Garrett (School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Cathryn Jackson (School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Brian Wilson (Vantage College, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 16 November 2015




This paper aims to report on a pilot research project designed to explore if new mobile augmented reality (AR) technologies have the potential to enhance the learning of clinical skills in the lab.


An exploratory action-research-based pilot study was undertaken to explore an initial proof-of-concept design in using AR resources to supplement clinical skills lab teaching. A convenience non-probability sample of 72 undergraduate nursing students tested these resources during lab sessions, and participated in post-exposure surveys and focus groups to help evaluate them. This pilot design aimed to test logistics and gather information prior to further developmental work.


Key similarities emerged between the survey and focus group findings regarding the technical issues and support for student learning. Students clearly expressed a comfort with the technology, and both students and faculty identified the ability to access resources to support self-directed learning and review of skills as positive attributes of using AR. However, technical issues such as slow response times and incompatible smartphones interfered with resource access and frustrated some students, potentially having a negative impact on their learning. Students gave positive feedback regarding the value of mobile access and having AR resources available “at the bedside” where they were practicing.

Research limitations/implications

This empirical pilot study was limited to a small number of participants in a single location. However, a deeper understanding of the potential value of AR in clinical health professional education, and best practices in implementing these new technologies, was achieved.

Practical implications

This study provides a valuable practical contribution, as the approach for AR resource development described can be readily replicated by teachers with limited technical skills. The practical limitations of AR technologies discovered by use in real-world settings will provide developers and educators with valuable information as they begin to explore the use of AR in the lab and beyond.

Social implications

AR represents a rapidly developing field, with increasing social impact. This study provides some initial ideas that will help inform future uptake of AR in wider educational settings, beyond health professional education.


This study represents original work in the field, and specifically, an original implementation of AR in an educational context.



The authors are grateful to the CASN/ACESI Pat Griffin Educational Research Scholarship and UBC TLEF awards for funding this work.


Garrett, B.M., Jackson, C. and Wilson, B. (2015), "Augmented reality m-learning to enhance nursing skills acquisition in the clinical skills laboratory", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 298-314.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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